View Full Version : bass question
04-30-2010, 12:20 PM
I am primarily a guitar player, but also hack out some bass tracks for recording. I have a fender jazz bass. My question is about pickups.
I never play it through an amp, just into my daw for recording. I monitor via phones of my pc speakers. I experiment a bit with which pickups to use, either bridge,neck or both. I tend to lean to both.
What is the most common pickup combo real bass players use? Think rock tones.
04-30-2010, 03:26 PM
I'm no bass player, but play bass on my recordings (see my sig if you want to hear) and I try to "think" (oops...the quotes do NOT mean I think less of bass players, despite the jokes, bass rules!) like one instead of like a guitarist when I play bass. Not sure how well I succeed though.
Of course, take advice from a real bassist over mine, but generally, I try everything until I get the bass sound that melds with either the bass drum, or guitar (depending on context) or both, or the song.
Sorry, I tend to doubt that there is one pickup to use, even when qualifying it with "for rock tones" (which was smart to do by the way!).
To me it seems that with the two basses I have, one a fender and the other an aria fretless, that just like guitar it depends on the pickups and bass itself. Also the way you play (hit hard, hit softer, technique for playing, etc.) and where on the strings you play matters.
I guess I'm saying just that it might be better to focus on the tone you need for the song than which pickup, and just use whatever you have to to get it. Does the song need a bassy bass, or a sharp bass, or a fuzzy bass, or OD bass, etc.?
Again, I am also a guitarist that is trying his hand at bass. There is a LOT more to it than meets the eye.
One thing really cool, the recordings at my site right now are pretty old (like 1990's old) and mainly done when
I first got a hard-disk recorder. Everything was a learning experience. But having to play bass (and I only KNOW great
bass when I hear it) and program drum machines to sound realistic, really opened my eyes and ears up to just how
much is going on in a song. When I was trying to learn some bass basics, instead of (as I always had) listening to
the song as a whole, and as parts but mainly focusing on what guitars were doing, I started listening to the bass and
understanding just a few of the many ways bass makes it all work. How bass can support and raise up the music.
Same with drums...
I think it helped me write and play.
04-30-2010, 03:39 PM
I like a P-bass better than a Jazz for rock...but that's just me
04-30-2010, 03:51 PM
In my experience, both pickups full on is pretty common for rock tones on a J-bass. That's the way I always run mine, and I don't even always play rock :). Some players like to dial the neck pickup volume back just a bit, which adds a nice treble bump to the sound; season to taste. Good for Jaco tone.
04-30-2010, 09:06 PM
For rock I would think both wide open or a bit more neck (if you can call it that) for that piano/P bass sound. I have this oddball Fender P bass with 5 strings that has a jazz pickup arrangement in it. I have Fender stacked humbuckers in it and it sounds great. For recording I run it though a Sadowsky preamp and it's perfect. I was asking Myron Dove (great bass player I know who tours with A listers and is a champ in the studio on both sides of the glass) about Bartolini and various active pickups you see in high end basses. He told me straight passive pickups would have more tone. That at DR strings. Man knows whereof he speaks. Some of the best sounding basses I've heard are passive. I have a friend who is a bass gearhead and goes though fancy basses like water. Graphite this, exotic that. He recently stumbled into a late 60's Jazz Bass that is the best sounding thing I've heard him play. Nothing mystical for a particular year, just a really good piece of wood, passive pickups and well set up.
05-01-2010, 08:55 AM
Thanks everyone for the input. I usually record direct getting a tone I like, then experiment with compression and a pre amp emulator I have to give it a little oomph when needed. I almost always end up shaving some of the low low's off with a parametric eq.
Rick N Boogie
05-01-2010, 01:42 PM
I'm a bassplayer, and have owned a couple of J basses. My usual method with any 2 pup bass, is both pups on, tone at full, and I roll back the volume just a tad from the neck pup.
The Golden Boy
05-01-2010, 05:28 PM
Personally, I'm primarily a bass player and I use a Jazz with the bridge pickup rolled off and use the tone control and/or a little of the bridge pickup to remove any excess 'pop.'
When using my G&L (which doesn't have an individual control for each pickup) it's either the neck or both.
With all of my basses with 2 pickups (with the "neck" pickup being "P" position or closer to the neck) I NEVER use the bridge pickup soloed.
05-02-2010, 03:27 AM
I'm really glad the OP posted this...
As a non-bass player, it really never did occur to me to use both pickups and use them just like I would on a guitar. I don't know why. It isn't like I only use one on guitar, but for some reason I had this idea of "pick a pickup and use it" not thinking about using both.
Totally stupid of me, but there may, possibly, be others just as ignorant, so it was great to hear this from you all!
The Golden Boy
05-02-2010, 09:05 AM
As a non-bass player, it really never did occur to me to use both pickups and use them just like I would on a guitar.
The thing about a Jazz bass is that it can sound like a Jazz bass. When you roll off the bridge pickup, it does a pretty passable Precision impression. Because a Precision does not have the bridge pickup, it cannot sound like a Jazz.
Because the Jazz is wired the way it is, you've got volume controls for each pickup that are independent of the other volume- in other words if you roll off the bridge, even to off, it doesn't affect the volume of the neck.
Where the pickups do interract is that when they're run together, they're humbucking.
If you measure where the Jazz pickups are (scale distance from the 12th fret) the neck pickup is almost exactly where the P pickups are located. IMO, that's the "sweet spot" for bass pickups. It's the same scale distance on the J, P, Mustang, Old Precision... basically any "Fender-style" bass.
Looking at the Jazz pickups they're "close" in dimension to the old Single Coil P pickups- and the sound, by themselves is similar- with the SC P being hotter, louder and "poppier."
IMO, so much of that P sound is mostly derrived from the location at where the pickup is- what kind of pickup is there is what makes the sound unique.
For me, I kind of want my J to sound like a P- so I generally don't use the bridge pickup. If my sound is too hot or poppy, I'll roll in a quarter of the bridge and/or roll on the tone. Just until I get the sound I need. I rarely want my J to have that traditional nasal-y middy Jazz Bass tone- although it is useful in certain situations.
05-02-2010, 10:46 AM
With a Jazz bass, I roll the bridge pickup way down and keep the neck pickup full on - also roll down the tone knob a little. I also pluck the strings high up, close to the neck.
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